Watch Dog Process avoids abusive and clientelist tenders

The Albanian Institute of Science (AIS), an organization that promotes open data in Albania, has the pleasure of sharing with you a positive experience of the role of the civil society and media in the watch dog process of civic monitoring and control over how public property is used in the country.

On 19 April, Open Procurement Albania portal provided comprehensive information to the public and journalists about a procurement process of the Municipality of Tropoja, whereby the Municipality Rented a Tourist Space, known as:

Tourism Development Centre of Valbona

Renting, through competition, of the Tourism Development Centre of Valbona, an area of 4180 m² (as in the layout), including a building covering an area of 461 m2 and a functional space (outside the building) of 3719 m2. The building is rented so that it can be used to support economic activities that encourage investments, employment, and tourism. The minimum rent from which competition starts is 60,240 (sixty thousand and two hundred and forty) lekë/month. The term of rent shall be 5 (five) years.

The time available for potential competitors was very short. The tender was announced on 18 April, and the deadline for applications was 20 April, which significantly leads to suspicions of an intentional clientelist procurement process. In addition, the minimum rent for such a building and area in one of the most visited tourist sites seems to be very abusive. Information about this procurement process spread quickly through social media, comments were made by hundreds of citizens, and it became target of various media articles, mainly by online media. Some journalists made further investigations, finding out that, in addition to the natural resources the Centre represents; it (the building) had just been completed with the investments made by the Albanian Development Fund. Following such civic pressure on social networks and media, the Municipality of Tropoja decided to cancel the procurement process because of the short time available for application. The cancelation was published on the latest bulletin of the Public Procurement Agency (25 April).

AIS, through its monitoring process and publication of information in an Open format (easy to be found and searched), draws your attention to the extreme lack of transparency over procurement processes of our local government units in renting public buildings.  These procurement processes are not announced electronically. They are only made in the PDF version of the Bulletin, leave always very little time for applications, and are not accompanied by a final announcement about the total number of participants, values of winning contracts, and the name of the winning economic operators.

At the moment, Open Procurement Albania portal provides data about eight procurement processes for renting territories and properties owned by Municipalities, which have taken place from July 2015. There, you may also find information about 1547 public procurement procedures of the 61 local government units emerging after the recent territorial-administrative division.

This portal is part of the activities of OpenLGU Program. We welcome suggestions and invitations for cooperation!

AIS proposals for the draft Albania’s OGP Action Plan 2016 – 2018

The Albanian Institute of Science (AIS), an organization that promoted open and transparent data, which is also engaged as a member of the Coalition for Open Governance Partnership (OGP) for Albania, has, for the third time, become part of the consultations with the Government of Albania in drafting an OGP Action Plan. Aiming at contributing to the efforts for open governance as good governance, AIS proposes some commitments that the Government and its Partners should undertake in being part of the Action Plan for OGP fir the two coming years, 2016 – 2018:

Suggestion no. 1: Commitment to Open Contracting Standards. Publication of public contracts using the Open Data format.

Government Implementation Agency(ies): Council of Ministers, Ministry for Relationships with the Parliament, and the Ministry for Economic Development

Non-Government Partner: AIS, etc.

Potential Supporters: World Bank

The Albanian Government needs to commit to applying Open Contracting standards. This is the trend followed by states and transparency actors in their efforts for open information about public contracts and the procedure followed until their finalization. Therefore the Government of Albania may consider abiding by principles of transparency and public access in drafting the new law on Public Procurement. Such law shall have to consider introducing an obligation for publishing every extract of contracts for public works, supplies of goods and services, PPPs or concessions, public rent, sales of public assets, and loan contracts, or public loans contract at the local and central level. The same obligation must also be applicable to the publication of the donation contracts with public institutions, and to online access.

It must also be considered to use the Open Data format in creating the Concessionary Register on the basis of the Law on Concessions and PPPs, and the Decision of the Council of Ministers, ensuring protection of the commercial secret and intellectual property.

Suggestion no. 2: Local Government Unit Budgets by their revenue structures 

Ministry for Local Affairs; Ministry of Finances

Potential supporters and partners: UNDP; Swiss Government; USAI; etc.

The Law on Local Government Finances must consider introducing an obligation for local government units to publish the structure of their revenues abiding to the Open Spending standards. This can be achieved in cooperation with the non-governmental sector and with the financial support of programs for local government planning or assistance instruments for anti-corruption (including IPA instruments). A model of the Open Budget of Local Government shall be published in May in the framework of the USAID Program, PLGP.

Suggestion no. 3 Publication of the annual declaration of assets for high officials

National Coordinator against Corruption, Ministry for Local Affairs, Ministry of Justice

Partners from the Non-Governmental Sector: AIS; Association of Journalists for Justice; BIRN Albania, etc.

Support Partners: EU instrument IPA Anti-Corruption; USAID, etc.

Control of Assets and Conflict of Interests is an interesting moment, which is also related with the implementation of the law on decriminalization, and the justice system reform. The public in Albania has the right of access to information on declared incomes and assets. Such access, however, is limited to the will and performance of the monitoring parties and the institution that owns the database (High Inspectorate). Currently, different countries apply the option of (additional) access to, and control of such information. In simple words, the declarations of elected officials and high officials are published online. This would have to start first with the judges and representatives of the justice system, who are twice subject to the control of the conflict of interest. 1. As any other high official (Law on HIDACCI) and 2.  Subject to the provisions of the Code of Procedures (review of court cases). Thus, a judge may not adjudicate a party in the court process, if the same party is the employer of a family member of the judge, or the buying/selling party in a contract involving the judge or someone rom his/her family. Having access to the declarations of interest, the other party in the process has more information if its interests are manipulated due to the judge’s conflict of interest.

Finally, our organization welcomes any discussions, public hearings, coordination, and joint engagement aiming at reaching concrete results for open and transparent governance

How have Municipalities done their tenders! Contracts with Direct Negotiations and Investment Tenders

Open Data Albania has inquired into the number of tender procedures and fund limits for public procurement announced by 61 local government units (municipalities) following the recent administrative-territorial division. The research article is based on the database of the Transparent Procurement portal. The portal contains information about every public procurement procedure for each of the 61 new local government units from July 2015 onwards. 

  • Public Procurement (total number and value). During this period, there has been a total number of 1290 procedures announced for a fund limit of 92 billion (new) lekë. Each of these public procurement procedures is listed on the Transparent Procurement portal, under the Tenders section. The Municipality of Tirana is the municipality with the highest fund limit for procurements in this period. Tirana has announced 129 tenders with a value of 2.28 billion lekë. Tirana is followed by the Municipality of Durrës with 50 procedures and a fund limit of 931.79 million lekë. The Municipality of Fier comes third by its fund limit. This municipality has announced 59 tenders for a fund limit of 899.85 million lekë. The list of the 10 municipalities with the highest fund limit includes also the municipalities of Korça, Saranda, Berat, Divjaka, Gjirokastra, Kavaja, and Librazhd. The list of the 10 municipalities with the lowest fund limit for tenders includes Ura Vajgurore, Mirdita, Përrenjasi, Delvina, Libohova, Fushë – Arrëzi, Pogradeci, Tepelena, Dropulli, Memaliaj, and Pusteci. The article with the Table and Visualizations Public Procurement by Municipalities, announced during July 2015 – April 2016.
  • Direct Negotiations refer to public procurement procedures through which the contracting authority selects the economic operators itself and negotiates the contract terms with one or more of them. The decision to apply such procedure must be grounded and justified by conditions that force the authority to act in this way. Being a type of public procurement without any competition, the Direct Negotiations carry the risk of a high exposure to fund misuse. In total, this period has seen 150 public contracts finalized through direct negotiations. The fund for these public procurement procedures is 83 million lekë. Each of these public procurement procedures is listed in the Transparent Procurement portal, under the Tender with Negotiations section. Municipalities of Tirana, Elbasan, Kamza, Vau i Dejës, Rrogozhina, Korça, and Lezha are the municipalities with the highest number of direct negotiations. In this sense, extension of contracts are also considered direct negotiations the procuring authorities do this (extend contracts) every time they face expiry of timeframes of purchases, or recognizes the need for additional works or services. Only 37 out of 61 municipalities have applied the procedure of direct negotiations. Direct negotiations for more than 5 million lekë were applied by the municipalities of Elbasan, Tirana, Maliq, Konispol, Vau i Dejës, Rrogozhina, and Kamza. You may find the article by reading Contracts with Direct Negotiations by Municipalities, announced from 20 July 2015 until 7 April 2016
  • Public Investments (tenders). This period marked a total of 269 procurements for public works for a value of 07 billion lekë. It results that 68% of the fund limit tendered by the municipalities during this time period was intended for investments, the rest to supplies of goods and services. The figures include only investments tendered by the municipalities themselves, and not public works tendered by the Albanian Development Fund or central government units that correspond with investments in their territories. Each of these public procurement procedures is listed with the Transparent Procurement portal, under the category of public Works, using the search filter ‘type of contract’. The Municipality of Korça and that of Fier have the highest fund limits for public works. They are followed by Tirana, Durrësi, Saranda, Berati, Divjaka, Gjirokastra and Librazhdi. Two municipalities, Fushë Arrëzi and Pogradeci have not yet realized any procurement of public works, depriving their administrative units of the benefits and economic effects of investments. Thus, the four municipalities with the minimum funds used for Public Procurement are Tepelena, Kukësi, Pusteci and Memaliaj. The article can be found on Investments, Procurement for Public Works by Municipalities, announced during July 2015 – April 2016.

The portal intends to make the information about tenders and public procurements of the 61 municipalities in the country transparent and easily traceable. Using search filters, procurements can be categorized by their types of contracts, like Public Procurement (investments), Supply of Goods (purchase), Services, etc. in addition, each tender can be categorized by the number of participants, and an assessment of the difference between the fund limit available and the value of the winning offer. Afterwards, information is updated by the number of participants in the competition, the winner, the status of the project, the contract term, and payments according to the Treasury Transactions. AIS is the organization that implements this project. This organization promotes Open Data for Albania.

Open Local Government Procurements – Open LGP

This project intends to make open and easily searchable the data related to public tenders and contracts of the local government (61 new municipalities). Thus, the citizens shall be able not only to see what services, works, or public purchases are being contracted, but even the amounts of money allocated to the public programs. Every call for tender will be transparently accompanied by updated additional information about the project name, type of procurement, tender deadlines, number of participating bidders, the selected offers, project status, date of financial clause, operational period of contract and payments made by the State Treasury Office for each public service or public work.

Improvement of the Living Conditions for the Roma Community Seven municipalities reconstruct Roma houses.

The Albanian Institute of Science (AIS), through its Open Local Government Procurement (OpenLGP) enables monitoring of all public procurement processes carried out by the 61 local government units in the country. The project focuses on every public tender and contract (of any value) carried out from July 2015 onward. Transparency of Public Contracts is important not only as part of the transparency over spending of public funds, but also for the fact that the award and execution of such contracts influences the quality of life and services for various communities.

Through this email, we are sharing with you some information about some public procurement processes and public contracts executed for the Construction or Reconstruction of Roma and Egyptian houses. These contracts are published on OpenLGP  and concern the Roma community in the seven following municipalities:

  1. Municipality of Saranda announced an open tender procedure on 24. 08. 2015 for Reconstruction of 6 houses of Roma and Egyptian Community. The fund limit (VAT excl.) for the Reconstruction of the 6 houses was 2 750 000 lekë. There were 8 economic operators, which participated in the tender process. The public contract was signed on 6. 10. 2015 with Shendelli SHPK. The contract term was 20 days.
  2. Municipality of  Mirdita announced an open tender procedure on 31. 08. 2015 for Reconstruction of 15 (fifteen) houses of Roma and Egyptian community, Municipality of Mirdita, Rrëshen. The fund limit (VAT excl.) for this tender was 4 416 670 lekë. The tender was cancelled in the first stage, because none of the participants met the criteria. The tender was re-announced, and 5 economic operators participated. The contract was signed with AEK MUNELLA SHPK (on 11.11. 2015). The agreed implementation timeframe was 1 month from the date the contract was signed.
  3. Municipality of Lezha announced that it had signed a contract with Junik SHPK on 28.12. 2015 by a negotiation procedure. The value of the contract (VAT Incl.) was 3 815 200 lekë for Construction of social houses for 8 (eight) Roma families.
  4. Municipality of Divjaka announced a tender procedure on 4. 03. 2016 through a Request for Proposal for the Reconstruction of Houses of Roma and Egyptian Community in the Administrative Unit of Grabian (18 families), Municipality of Divjaka. The fund limit (VAT excl.) was 8 514 590 lekë. The tender was cancelled for Mistakes with the Calculations of the Bill of Quantities. It was then re-announced, but no announcement is yet made about the winner or a contract signed.
  5. Municipality of Rrogozhina announced an open tender procedure on 10. 03. 2015 for Construction of 2-storey Social Houses for Roma and Egyptian Community in the Municipality of Rrogozhina. The tender will take place on 30 March, and the tender documentation specifies that the funds are from the World Bank. You will find information about the tender process and the winner of the public contract in the coming weeks on the updated information under the Transparent Procurement section.
  6. The Municipality of Kruja has announced an open tender on 16. 03. 2016 with a fund limit (VAT excl.) of 18 122 330 All for Construction and Reconstruction of 35 Houses of Rom Community, Village of Arrameras Fushë-Krujë. The tender will take place on 8. 04. 2016 and the contract validity is 4 months.
  7. The Municipality of Elbasan announced a Request for Proposals procedure on 16. 03. 2016 for the Improvement of the Living Conditions for Roma and Egyptian Community in Lagja 5 Maji. The fund limit for the tender was 5 522 100 ALL. The deadline for the submission of the tender documentation was only 14 days, and the winner is expected to be announced on 29. 03. 2015.

Other municipalities, where there are Roma communities in need, have not yet announced any tenders or public contracts during July 2015 – March 2016 in this area. OpenLGP Transparent Procurement invites you to learn more in the coming days about the progress of the public procurement processes and public contracts for improving the living conditions of communities in need. We also invite investigative journalists and local organizations involved in monitoring the performance of local government units to observe in the field the efficiency of the execution of the signed public contracts.

Open Local Government Procurement OpenLGP is a project implemented by AIS, an organization that promotes Open Data Albania.